Losing and Finding Me: Who Do I Think I am?
by Jennifer Paros
Be that self which one truly is.
~ Soren Kierkegaard
Years ago, while in art school, I accidentally lost eleven pounds. It wasn’t the result of physical illness, more like mental unrest. I wanted to make art but also doubted I was skilled or capable enough. What I believed about myself and what I wanted were in conflict, so I was stressed. Then, one day, I made an interesting decision. Though I’d always been thin, I decided to put myself on a sort of diet to lose two pounds (it made sense at the time). I see now, I was looking for something I could take control of – to feel better about myself. Time passed and eventually murmurs of concern, occasional remarks, and an anorexia reference rolled in. These comments threw me into a spin. I didn’t actually know how much I weighed; the start of my “diet” was the last time I had weighed myself. Finally, I stepped on a scale and found I had lost not two but eleven pounds – down to what I weighed in high school when I’d felt so bad about being too skinny I’d tried to gain weight.
I’d been both awake and asleep to what I was doing during this time. In my peripheral consciousness I could feel desperation but didn’t know how to address it. Now it was my task to undo the misguided thoughts and artificial ways I’d developed for soothing myself. It wasn’t easy or fast. I struggled to let go of striving to restrict myself– at first approaching it mechanically. I attempted what everyone wanted me to do: “Just eat more”. But the mind that had strategized trying to regulate what I was eating and the emotions that had learned to calm when that control was taken weren’t so easily moved. I pined for the natural way I’d once eaten and had inadvertently traded away. Gradually, I found my way back.
Who I thought I was and who I deep down sensed I was were not aligned, and that left me feeling out of sorts and out of control. more
The Scary Business of Writing Suspense
by Lisa Gardner
Twenty years ago, I decided to join the big leagues; I was going to quit my day job and write a breakout suspense novel that would bend all the rules, shock and awe my readers, and just possibly earn me more than ten-cent Ramen noodles for dinner. In the good news department, I was already a published author. I’d written half a dozen romantic suspense novels for Silhouette, genre books that I loved to write, but being genre, had a limited income stream. As in, my day job still paid the bills. But now I wanted more. I wanted to write, write, write. Every day, all the time. Maybe even in a real office, instead of at the foot of my bed.
The bestseller lists were already filled with former genre authors who’d made the leap. Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag, Iris Johansen, Tess Gerritsen. All romance novelists now making huge waves in suspense. I figured I could do exactly the same. I’d give myself one year to write a breakout thriller, and just like that, become an overnight success.
Except what is breakout suspense? More sex, I figured. More violence. How hard could it be? So I sat down. I drafted like a madwoman and you know what? I produced one really long, murderous, lustful piece of garbage.
Writing is uncomfortable. There’s no magic box that sits on your desk and says, “This scene is perfect or this character is exactly right.” I thought that having already published would’ve helped me reach this next level in my writing career. I was wrong. Bigger, my editor kept urging me. Think bigger story, bigger conflict, bigger thrills and bigger chills.
Frankly, I stewed, fretted and ate a lot of brownies. Soon, I was bigger, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what my editor meant. more...
Reminders for the New Year
by Cherie Tucker
I know we’ve done it before, but a review of those pesky ones couldn’t hurt. Here’s a reminder of some of those words that are being used incorrectly so often that you might be taken in and start using the wrong ones yourself.
All right: Notice there is no other way to write that: Without two words, all right is all wrong.
Affect—a verb that means to change a response: The warning sign didn’t affect his driving.
Effect—a noun that means a result: The warning sign didn’t have any effect on his driving.
or a verb that means to cause: They hoped a sign would effect a change in him.
Anxious—to look forward to with fear: He’s anxious about having to speak to this crowd.
Eager—to look forward to with excitement or pleasure: She’s eager to be on stage again.
Comprise—the parts are contained in the whole: Veggies and tofu comprise the entire menu!
(Nothing is ever comprised of.)
Composed of—the parts make up the whole: An entire menu composed of veggies and tofu?